I know what I don’t want when I’m in a nursing home…Bingo is at the top of the list! 175



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Having worked in nursing homes and in hospitals, mainly with elderly and frail clients, I am very aware of the way life usually is. Well meaning, and kindly people come to visit and bring music and life to the homes at times, the activities staff (I was one) do their best to provide a variety of outlets for the mental, emotional and physical needs of their residents.

A ‘home-like’ atmosphere is strived for. So that has worked in the very best homes, and failed miserably in the prison-like worst homes. I have seen places where the sad bodies are spaced around the room with no stimulation, no view and very little to encourage joy in the remainder of their life. Some of the crazy things work wonderfully well, I would not be allowed to undertake them now as rules have made those activities impossible.

The big stick of ‘Health and Safety’ has beaten down the simple fun we provided. We used to cook, making fried rice, and scones and cakes in the room and then enjoying it together. No one ever got sick from our food.

I once hired a complete children’s farm to come to the nursing home, and it rained on the day. So we put down black plastic and all the animals including calves, geese, chickens and goats came into the big day room. The staff nearly had a fit, but it worked, and was the best day, I cried as I watched a little Russian lady nursing a hen, and the baby goats were just like docile dogs. Another excursion was to the National Gallery, where a lady who was 100 saw for the first time the art that reflected her times. Again as we had tea the tears fell, as I saw the happiness and the animation on their faces. We also took them all to Healesville, which was a huge and exhausting expedition, but still worth it.

I only gave up my job at near 70. So I am closer to a life when the nursing home might see me on the other side of the fence. Guess what though? I know what I want. It sure as heck is not Bingo and baggy pants.

I WANT: Happy hour every day, with a pretend bar and if necessary non-alcoholic drinks, as long as they look pretty. I would like every room to have the choice of a laptop or iPad area, so a desk is essential. If my brain is still active I want to keep it that way. I do not want to be put to bed at 6pm. Television is an option, not one I would worry about but want a Kindle with large print and endless books to browse. I simply will not sit and sing Daisy, although I know the previous generations loved it, I think for my generation it will be Abba, the Beatles, and if really desperate country music. But in my room there will be the muffled beat of Led Zepellin, or White Stripes, unless I am having a nostalgic day, then it will be Eva Cassidy and Leonard Cohen.

Baby boomers and beyond will also need outside entertainment, so stage and screen visits will be needed. Watch out world, as those in their 60s and 70s now will need a very different care facility. We will want to dress more trendy than thermal. All this is pie in the sky I know, as there will not be any money for the next wave of nursing home residents. So how about lobbying the rich and famous and asking them to start putting money into a new breed of care homes? Well I can dream, just don’t put me in an armchair listening to Daisy!

What do you think? What would you like your life to be like when you’re 80? Tell us below.

Originally published here

Jacqui Lee

Jacqui Lee is 75 and now retired but the last ten years or so have been some of her busiest. She worked at a hospital, where she took several Certificated courses, she cleaned a school, helped to run two conventions, wrote short stories, started painting, and in fact is never bored even now, "I honestly feel we are lucky to still be upright and breathing, and my motto is, Remember yesterday, dream of tomorrow, but live today. I love fun, clothes, food and friends."

  1. I totally agree after having worked in aged care facilities for over 30 years, & give me my modern country music..

  2. Yes I agree with you because I also worked in a nursing home for about 8 years and although the staff were great, stupid rules and regulations prevented them from doing fun stuff with the residents. I just had to get out of there because it upset me to much, omg guess what job I did next? I worked with disabled kids for 23 years and the rules and regulations prevented us from bringing joy into their lives as well.

    4 REPLY
    • I loved my job to Christina Smith, however if we could just help those in need with some exciting activities I’m sure of them would enjoy their lives more. There really needs to be change made both in aged care and disability for them to enjoy some quality of life.

    • Exposing some secrets here – but I worked with adults with intellectual disabilities – we got in sex workers for them if they so wished! That should happen in Aged care places as well if the clients desire it.

  3. I worked in ages care for 10 years. Article has covered fully what I would require and expect in nursing home. Pie in the sky though.

  4. to Trish Daley and Robyn Bottin…Thank you from the bottom of my heart…I’m not there yet but my mom was and it takes a special someone to care for these residents. Do you think we will be so looked after ?

    1 REPLY
    • Very hard to say Lori, the way the government is cutting funding in aged care. As far as I understand, the move is more towards care in your own home, which long term is much cheaper than people being placed in aged care facilities. This is where we are all much more comfortable & familiar with our own environment, & more inclined to maintain as much independence as possible..

  5. The thought of going into a nursing home (God’s waiting room) fills me horror. My mother unfortunately had to go into one and baggy pants, dinner at 5pm, well meaning old singers, dancers and pianists regularly visited, useless bits of craft etc. were all the things she hated. Maybe a more modern version is waiting for the baby boomer generation, but I doubt it!

  6. I can only agree. Most of the nursing homes where I have visited inmates (!) were like prisons.

  7. I have given my daughters instructions that I am never to be put in tracksuit pants. I have never worn them and am not going to start.

    2 REPLY
    • my friends laugh and say “You’ll have a scarf or beads on to dress them up knowing you. ” oh but I hate them and hope it never happens.

    • IF I wear them at all it is to bed !! I HATE them with a passion !!! Especially when worn shopping along with sartorial elegance of rubber thongs and shapeless T shirts !!!

  8. This chapter needs revising and we should be making strong suggestions towards a meaningful lifestyle in ‘there’ perhaps we can canvass this to the relevant gov Dept , this page could really make a difference towards our own benefit .

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